Kochi, Mar 12(): Sahara boss Subrata Roy cooling his heels in Tihar jail is a result of an honest officer who had to fight various central ministries and even write to the PM who did not care about his complaints. It instead asked him to talk to the officer against whom he complained.
One month after the final order on Sahara was passed, the officer was transferred to Kerala as additional Chief Secretary, despite SEBI asking the government to extend his services with the regulator.
KM Abraham hit a dead-end in his investigation into the Sahara scam and was forced to write to PM saying that Finance ministry was stonewalling his efforts to take remedial steps in Sahara case and he said this extreme step was taken since he had no other place to go.
He said he had evidence to prove his charges. Instead of keeping the identity of the person who came up with charges a secret, PMO sends it to a wing of Finance Ministry against whom Abraham has complained. To top it, a top officer T K A Nair from PMO office asks Abraham to talk to the official in FM on whom he has complained. With PMO not being interested in the investigation into Sahara, any other officer would have given it up but Abraham chose to move on.
BSE, Law ministry, IT and FM were all against the inquiry. Abraham as a SEBI member is not under Finance Ministry but FM (then Pranab Mukherjee) office has its secretary Paul trying to bring the probe under its control. FM office then asked IT to probe the purchase of a flat by Abraham. It turns out that SEBI had already got an anonymous letter on it and found that the flat was bought on loan.
Next was to take the case away from SEBI as Sahara said since it was not listed on stock exchange it cannot be investigated by the regulator. To support Sahara, Bombay stock exchange too took this stance.
SEBI pointed out that anyone collecting deposits from more than 50 investors should come under SEBI and that issuing debentures was under its control. Next Salman Khurshid comes into the picture saying that Sahara comes under his ministry of corporate affairs. This was not because Khurshid wanted to bring Sahara to book but to take it out of SEBI scanner.
Three years later, Abraham’s lone fight gets justice as Roy is publicly humiliated and spends the night on a concreted bed in Tihar. It is a lesson for officers who do not buckle down. Abraham with a doctorate from Michigan University, CFA (USA) and a product of IIT Kanpur could have had a lucrative job abroad but he chose to be part of the Indian government. Fortunately he was not put under the scanner on trumped charges and put on suspension.
Maheswari Peri who was Outlook publisher chronicled the travails of Abraham.